The last rose of summer

September is flying past, and autumn begins this week. I took this photo of a rose in my yard yesterday, as it made one final salute to summer. Today, its petals are lying on the ground. It reminds me of the famous poem by Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852.)

‘Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

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Before we leave summer entirely, here are some photos I took of my garden over the past few months, showing its progress. It’s not a very big garden, and it grew a bit more wild than I anticipated, but it’s always inspiring to see plants grow and blossom in front of your eyes. It’s also fascinating to see all the insects who come to the garden and make it their home.

Luckily, this little fellow stayed outside the fence, and ate the weeds in the yard. Meanwhile, the garden will keep blooming until the first frost, when it will be time to dig it up until next year.

This also marks another milestone, it has been one year since I started this blog. It’s been fun exploring artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers who use nature in their work, and I’m looking forward to more interesting discoveries next year. So stick around!

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A light exists in spring

spring_flowersIn honor of Poetry Month and springtime, here is a poem by Emily Dickinson. There is a certain light in springtime that is unique to the year, and all the more precious for its briefness. Enjoy spring while it lasts!

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A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay—

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

– Emily Dickinson

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The Nature of Emily Dickinson

dickinson1bTo kick off this wintry new year, here is a poem by Emily Dickinson, who was no stranger to the outdoors. Throughout her roughly 1,700 poems, she described nature in her own singular way, as someone who has quietly observed it all her life. This particular poem is written as a riddle, never explicitly stating the subject, though I think you’ll guess.

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It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain —
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem —
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen —
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

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An Ode to Autumn, by Keats

keats_sketch2

The seasons have inspired poetry in every century, and for good reason. Today I thought I’d share one of the more famous seasonal poems by John Keats (who is also the subject of a new feature film by Jane Campion.)

Keats was an English poet who was born in 1795 and died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. His poetry was not well received by critics during his short life, and he died before winning the praise he deserved. Keats requested that the following words be put on his tombstone, in lieu of his name: “Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.” Keats may have felt that his own life was not worth remembering, but he needn’t have worried — his work will live on forever. You can read more about Keats and his works here.

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To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
        To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
        For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
    Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
        Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
        Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring?  Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
        Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
        And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

— John Keats, 1819

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